HILLSBOROUGH: High school sophomores to be ‘steered straight’ in coming program

Students at Hillsborough High School will get a crash course on substance abuse and addiction later this month with a special program aimed at shedding a light on the real-life ramifications for getting involved with opioids and other illicit substances.

On January 31, the sophomore class at the high school will attend “Steered Straight,” a presentation hosted by Michael DeLeon who will share his personal drug abuse story and how it impacted his entire life. A second presentation for parents and students aged 12 years old and up will be held on the same day at 7 p.m. in the Hillsborough High School auditorium.

Superintendent Dr. Jorden Schiff said the pair of presentations were part of an overarching push by the school district to discuss the opiate epidemic with its students and the overall community.

“Drug and alcohol abuse prevention is as much about education as it is about conversation,” Schiff said. “It is our hope that this evening’s presentation provides parents with good information as well as guidance on how to begin the discussion with their children.”

By opening up about his past, officials said DeLeon hopes to steer pupils away from drug use, while also providing parents and community members with information regarding current trends and how to engage in constructive conversation about these topics.

Drug abuse has been a hot button topic in Hillsborough, as parents and students both learn exactly how opiates and mental health both affect a youth’s life. For months, concerned parents and teachers have taken to the Hillsborough Township Board of Education meetings to address their concerns regarding drug abuse and depression within the student body.

In December, the school board enacted anti-drug policies that allowed for the use of naloxone, commonly referred to as Narcan, to deal with opiate overdoses and reclassified electronic cigarettes as drug paraphernalia, since they can be used to take narcotics. Earlier in the year, the board hired more counselors to fill gaps in coverage within the district’s buildings.

Last Saturday, the Hillsborough Education Association (HEA) hosted the first of two events created to establish a dialogue among as many people possible regarding mental health and substance abuse issues. They have plans to hold the next event, open to everyone above 13 years old, next month.

Steered Straight is being presented by the Governor’s Council on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse, Safe Coalition of Hunterdon and Somerset, Hillsborough/Millstone Municipal Alliance, Hillsborough Life Skills, and Steered Straight. The presentation is open to all parents and community members.

For additional information, visit the district website, www.htps.us or contact Minda Maggio at mmaggio@htps.us. No registration is required.